You’ve made it mid-way through January, congratulations! If you’ve made any resolutions, have you stayed with them? It’s possible that, like me, you’ve forgotten about your resolutions entirely, so here is a fun article to add more to your life.
Why bother with resolutions?
Excellent question. Today, January 21st, is dubbed ‘Blue Monday’ in order to give clickbait headlines a chance to shine in the dreary post-Christmas gloom of winter.
According to The Telegraph, these confusing and horrible reminders of Leaving Cert Honours maths represent the following:
W = weather
D = debt
d = monthly salary
T = time since Christmas
Q = time since failing our new year’s resolutions
M = low motivational levels
Na = the feeling of a need to take action
I’m already feeling crap, do I have to do maths as well?
Yes, it’s marketing nonsense, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining and informative. Let’s look at this formula more closely to see how it applies to ELT in Ireland
Weather: Pah, as if anything can be done about the weather in this damp and marshy isle.
Debt: See next point
Monthly salary: Now this one is where we can help. For the last 3 years, there has been a concentrated effort by teachers, driven by Unite and supported by ELT Advocacy to improve working conditions for English language teachers in Ireland. Some remarkable events have transpired lately, including the appointment of a mediator by Mary Mitchell- O’Connor to discuss issues in the unregulated ELT sector. Mitchell- O’Connor stated:
My key objective is to ensure that Ireland has an English language sector that we can all have confidence in … Teachers and staff are a central element in ensuring the quality of that educational provision.
MerrionStreet.ie, 13th January, 2019
We are being acknowledged as actual stakeholders in our industry now! From the former education minister refusing to even acknowledge that we were teachers, to being a driving force for a mediation process in which school owners and teachers will finally be on a more equal footing. When one considers the history of ELT in Ireland, and the unchecked power of the language schools over teachers, this is a big, big win. Next stop – better wages?
Time since Christmas: Yes, it’s very sad, but there are Easter eggs in Tesco already.
Time since failing our New Year’s Resolutions: Fear not! As mentioned, this post will bestow 7 brand new resolutions on you, whither wanted or not, in a beautiful infographic format, to make it easier to remember.
Low motivational levels: This one can blight us all. What’s the point in trying to change things, it’s not going to improve, etc., etc. Well let’s look at the example of Grafton College in December. Teachers whose unpaid wages amounted to €75,000 were literally abandoned by the school owner and left unemployed just before Christmas in a city with one of the highest rents in the world in the middle of a seasonal dip in employment. We were furious. We protested. We made a huge noise. A fundraiser was set up, and we donated in droves. A fundraising quiz was organised by Unite which was well-attended and raised a lot of money. We wrote and shared articles, we urged our colleagues to get involved. And this did not go unnoticed. Unite’s stellar efforts in lobbying the Seanad over the last two years on the QQI legislation meant we had many allies who fought our case on the legislative floor – against the government who voted us down.
And it worked. The Grafton teachers, some of them new to campaigning, some of them not, were present in the public gallery when the bill passed by a single vote and moved on to the next stage of Oireachtas. That’s pretty fucking motivational, in my view. That a group of teachers can achieve actual legislative change to ensure that the industry stops treating its workers like disposable nothings.
Last one- Need to take action: Well you know what you’ve got to do now, right? Start by looking at the resolution chart to see what you’ve done and where you need to begin. Join Unite here. Go to the branch meetings, vote on issues, bring forward motions, use your skills to enact change. Put in the work now to ensure you’re never in a situation like the Grafton College teachers, or like the other 20 plus schools that closed suddenly. It takes sustained political action to make our industry secure, decent and viable.
Have conversations in your staff room (if safe to do so), with other teachers, including newly-qualified teachers and teachers new to teaching in Ireland. Start taking detailed records of the work you’re doing outside the hourly wage that you’re paid. Admin work, planning, printing, researching – that is work, and if you’re not on a salary, you deserve to be paid for it. Is your school’s “admin rate” enough for the work you’re doing? Take notes, encourage other teachers to do the same. Go and read The Payment of Wages Act 1991. Be informed on your rights.
Get involved with ELT Advocacy – we’re always looking for people to get involved in the work we do supporting the branch. Writers, artists, advocates, people who get shit done – if that’s you, we want you.
My ELT resolutions
Print this off, put it somewhere you can see it regularly, and monitor your progress throughout the year. Apparently it takes only 21 days to make a new habit stick, so if you can keep up any of these resolutions until at least the 11th of February, you’ll be doing well. We’ll check back in then to see how things are going.